BRIDGEPORT -- Any other day, state Trooper Aaron "AJ" Huntsman would be standing at the front door of the Golden Hill Street courthouse in uniform, screening the dozens of accused criminals coming into the courthouse.

But on Monday, he was just another defendant, accused of stealing $3,700 from the mangled body of an Orange man killed in a crash on the Merritt Parkway.

Dressed in a dark suit, the 43-year-old Huntsman stood with his lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, before state Superior Court Judge Eddie Rodriguez Jr. and pleaded not guilty to two counts of third-degree larceny and one count each of interfering with police and tampering with evidence.

He elected a trial by jury. The judge continued the case to Jan. 18.

"Not today," McGuigan responded when asked if his client had a comment as they left the courthouse.

Huntsman is on administrative duty pending an internal affairs investigation.

Following his arrest, Huntsman spent two weeks in a drug rehabilitation center for claimed addiction to pain medication, court records show.

Huntsman is accused of stealing $3,700 from the body of 49-year-old John Scalesse on Sept. 22.

Scalesse, a former executive of the JAS Masonry in Milford, died after his motorcycle crashed into a construction company truck on northbound exit 44 of the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield.

State Police said Huntsman has maintained his innocence even after he was shown a video of him taking the money that was captured on the dash camera of his own police car.

The arrest warrant affidavit states that Huntsman, who was the first trooper at the crash scene, walked over to where Scalesse lay, bent down and picked up Scalesse's gold chain from a pool of blood. Later, Huntsman told Scalesse's grieving father that he didn't see any money on the victim.

State police later found the cash held with a rubber band under the front seat of Huntsman's cruiser.

A friend of Scalesse, who didn't want his name used, later said the victim was carrying at least twice that amount.; 203-330-6308; http://